Song Pick: “Rock Me Amadeus” by Falco
In Washington’s prisons, the level of unprofessional disrespect prisoners
receive from prison staff for practicing their First-Amendment-protected
law-related activities is absurd. Although there are very clear laws
prohibiting retaliation for exercising the very few civil rights prisoners
have while incarcerated, that doesn’t stop Washington’s DOC from still doing
Bryan Stetson may not be the most intellectual prisoner in Washington’s DOC,
but that wasn’t stopping him from assiduously fighting over his custody and
visitation rights for his daughter in a California Court via the mail. Like is
common behavior with tile brainwashed overseers in DOC, Court documents
indicate that one day the Office Assistant Supervisor (OAS) made some
photocopies for Bryan’s litigation, charged him for the copies, then
arbitrarily decided to destroy the copies instead of giving them to Bryan.
Bryan tried to peacefully redress this issue by way of a formal grievance
complaint within the prison. After grieving the issue, Bryan was uprooted from
his cell in the H1 Living unit and forced to move to another unit (H5) on the other
side of the prison. When Bryan asked why he was moved, he received no
answer, so he grieved the fact that he was moved in apparent retaliation for
having filed the grievance against the OAS.
Grievance coordinator D. Dahne responded to the grievance and flat-out told
Bryan that he could not grieve the cell-move issue. Dahne also told Bryan that
he was moved to accommodate a wheelchair-bound prisoner who needed the bed.
Get this: Bryan was moved from the top bunk–how in the fuck is a wheelchair-
bound prisoner going to occupy the top bunk? So Bryan did a public records request
and got the emails between the H1 Correctional Unit Supervisor (CUS)
Kathryn Bruner and other CUS’s which show that Bryan’s move wasn’t because of
a wheelchair-bound prisoner’s need, but instead was because Bryan was
considered a “leagle beagle and takes up too much staff time” making legal
copies, and CUS Bruner wanted to “get rid of” him. Despite the blatant
bold-faced lies on official DOC documents, the bottom line is CUS Bruner
committed retaliation against Bryan for nothing more than grieving the H1 OAS
regarding his custody fight over his daughter in court.
So Bryan brought a federal suit under 42 U.S.C. 1983 in the U.S. District
Court for the Western District of Washington. He alleged a pattern and
practice of DOC retaliating against prisoners for their practicing law-related
activities, and requested punitive, declaratory, and injunctive relief. Of
course, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) defended DOC’s crimes, and
immediately started playing their bullshit games that they always play against
prison litigators. But Bryan stayed with it. The AGO moved the court for
Summary Judgment, claiming qualified immunity because they alleged CUS Bruner
acted in good faith when she was intentionally violating Bryan’s civil rights
(I know, ridiculous, right? “Although my client was intentionally committing
crimes against you and intentionally lying about it, my client was doing it in
good faith and shouldn’t be punished.”). Bryan responded, and pointed out that
(1) he was originally on the top bunk, and a wheelchair-bound prisoner could
not climb the ladder to access the top bunk; (2) no wheelchair-bound prisoner
was moved into his old cell after he (Bryan) was relocated; (3) CUS Bruner’s
emails indicate that she was targeting him for his law-related activities; and
(4) CUS Bruner was not entitled to qualified immunity because the law in the
9th Circuit is–and has been–well-settled in that retaliation against
prisoners is absolutely prohibited. The Court agreed with Bryan, noting that
the evidence submitted shows that there is a question of retaliation by Bruner.
The Court appointed Bryan an Attorney from Seattle, Harry Williams,
IV. Harry started preparing for trial, and insinuated to DOC that they should
settle the case because this would not go well for the State if it went to
trial. After a few rounds of negotiations, DOC agreed to give Bryan $5,000 plus
$2,377.25 in copy costs and $268.54 in mailing costs as a settlement.
Yet again DOC has covered up their crimes by using the AGO to defend their
intentional civil rights violations against prisoners. This is not a
once-every-now-and-then thing: this is how these despots in Washington’s DOC
consistently react to prisoners who stand up for themselves. Worse yet, try to
imagine how they treat the majority of prisoners who don’t know how to stand
up for themselves. It’s almost as if DOC expects all prisoners to remain
ignorant and pretend we’re in a feudal tenure and run around saying “yes,
m’lord” to every aspect of their criminal regime. News flash: Some of those
ignorant prisoners have learned to read and write, and are not going to let the
bullshit fly any longer without bringing it to the Court’s attention. Our
Republic form of State government is meant to be OF the People. By the People.
For the People. It would behoove DOC’s personnel to understand that prisoners
are imprisoned AS their punishment, not to RECEIVE punishment.
Bryan’s lawsuit can be found at U.S. District Court for the Western District
of Washington under Case #3:15-cv-05524-BHS KLS.
(c)Copyright 2018 BRIAN DAVID MATTHEWS.
All Rights Reserved.
Categories: Brian Matthews